Douglas Ross: Scots firms must not be frozen out of Covid shutdown decisions
Businesses in Scotland must have a greater say in decision-making around future Covid lockdowns, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has said.
The Moray MP has called for the creation of a new Advisory Council involving firms to make sure that restrictions are not imposed at short notice.
The Scottish Government insists it wants to give firms as much notice as possible of changes – but must sometimes act quickly to tackle the virus.
It comes after a backlash last week when the Scottish Government announced the closure of pubs and restaurants across central Scotland for a fortnight to stem the rising tide of Coronavirus, just two days before they came into force.
Mr Ross outlined a Tory "blueprint" for improved relations between Government and industry north of the border in a virtual speech to dozens of business representatives this morning.
He repeated calls for a Scottish Winter Economy Plan from the SNP Government,and proposied a oronavirus Business Restrictions Advisory Council to inform decisions on restrictions. There should be a minimum one week "adaptation period" between the announcement and the introduction of future measures, he added, and an automatic, standard Scottish Business Restrictions Grant.
“Businesses deserve better support from the SNP Government," Mr Ross said.
"We don’t have to choose between backing business and protecting public health. We need to do both.
“Decisions should involve business, not be imposed on them from a distance.
"Our plan for a new advisory council would give businesses real input on the writing of guidance and help inform decisions on easing and introducing restrictions.
“It’s unfair to force businesses to shut on a few days’ notice. So, to give businesses time to prepare and understand the SNP’s often confusing guidance, we are also proposing a one week minimum ‘adaptation period’ between the announcement and introduction of measures.
“Finally, we are proposing a standard Scottish Business Restrictions Grant so that nobody ends up waiting, as they are right now, for financial support once restrictions are in place.
“Under the SNP, business has been sidelined. Too often, they treat business as a burden, as an afterthought. That must change.”
But the the Scottish Government insists that Nicola Sturgeon met with other party leaders last Monday to discuss the prospect of further restrictions.
"We want to give businesses as much notice as possible when it comes to restrictions, but we also need to be able to act quickly to help limit the spread of the virus,” the spokesman added.
“We are doing everything we can with the limited financial powers we have to respond to the pandemic, but we clearly require more powers and greater financial flexibility to help rebuild the Scottish economy.
“Our support to business now exceeds £2.3 billion. That includes almost £900 million of non-domestic rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses; the Small Business Grant Fund; the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund worth over £1 billion; and the Culture Organisations and Venues Recovery Fund. We also created Hardship and Resilience Funds unique to Scotland, with a value of £185 million targeted at support for SMEs and the self-employed.
“We have also launched a £40 million fund to help businesses affected by temporary restrictions to slow the spread of COVID which will help to protect jobs over the coming fortnight.”
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